East Texas MADD campaign encourages parents to talk to children about alcohol dangers early

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) East Texas is teaming up with Next Step Community Solutions to encourage parents to start talking to their children about the dangers of underage alcohol and drug usage. 

This is part of MADD National’s Power Talk 21 campaign that co-aligns with Alcohol Awareness month throughout April. The two groups have put together an informational video, walking parents through how to talk to their teens about these difficult topics and why it is so important to do so. 

Studies show that the age of first use in East Texas is just Consumption of alcohol this young can negatively affect a child’s brain development and lead to possible alcohol dependency in adulthood. 

“We know that people who are exposed to alcohol by the age of 15 are six times more likely to be alcohol dependent by the time they reach adulthood.” 

Joseph Byrum, Coalition Coordinator for the Piney Woods Substance Abuse Coalition

Starting a healthy conversation between parents and children on this issue now can stop this trend and prevent a possible life of alcoholism or even an early death. 

“Every year, about 4,300 youth die of alcohol, and it’s not all just alcohol-driving deaths. There are other things like alcohol poisoning and some other things that are also involved. I mean, 1% is too much, but definitely 4,300 is way too much,” said Kathy Davidson, a program specialist for MADD. 

Experts say it is necessary to start talking with children about these potential dangers as early as possible because children begin to make up their minds based off of what they observe around them at 8 years old. 

If they do not hear from their parents, they can form their opinion on alcohol-use based on how their parents respond to the substance. 

 “A popular myth that a lot of folks have is that if they provide alcohol to their teens in a safe environment, which would be their household, that they won’t have the urge to go get alcohol from their friends. But, the reality is that could backfire on you. They may feel safe drinking alcohol because if their parents say it’s okay, then it must be fine.” 

Joseph Byrum, Coalition Coordinator for the Piney Woods Substance Abuse Coalition

Davidson says setting guidelines like predetermined consequences, and making sure to leave time for these conversations often is very important. 

MADD East Texas is currently working with a few local  schools on this project and is looking to partner with more. They are hoping to also find incentives for students whose parents watch the video and complete the short virtual training. 

This informational video can be accessed by emailing Kathy Davidson at kathy.davidson@madd.org

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